New kit lets powerchair users control their device with a kiss

hoobox facial expression

Intel has teamed with US robotics company, Hoobox, to develop the world’s first device that allows powerchairs to be controlled by a user’s facial expressions.

The Wheelie 7 device was debuted at the CES show in Las Vegas where it was fitted onto a powerchair who was able to move the equipment with their face.

The kit is powered by Intel and uses 3D technology and AI to recognise 10 expressions such as kisses, smiles and frowns and translate them to actions such as forward movement, braking and direction changes.

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Developers claim it is the first piece of equipment that allows users to control powerchairs with expressions and is designed to be an alternative to uncomfortable body sensors.

It can be used even in low light levels and does not require an internet connection.

Speaking at the CES show, Paulo Pinheiro, chief executive of Hoobox Robotics, told i News that the kit can be installed in just seven minutes and comes with a camera and on-board computer that is placed over the powerchair’s joystick.

 “We’re currently using the wheelchair’s software in hospitals to capture facial expressions to detect human behaviours including pain, agitation and sedation,” he said.

“We’ve trained an algorithm on a huge data set of patients in pain, and it can now recognise on a scale of one to 10 the type of pain you’re in, especially if the patient cannot communicate with the medical staff. This could also help treat patients in a coma.”

Hoobox’s device claims to be compatible with all powerchairs and it currently has around 200 people waiting to receive a product by April.

The kit is free but Hoobox will charge a monthly service fee of £235. It plans to reduce this to under £80 by 2020.

Image credit: Hoobox Robotics

Tags : aicesCES 2019HooboxIntelpowerchairtechnology
Joe Peskett

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